They say a week is a long time in politics. A year, however, is definitely not a long time in the development of Sony cameras. This time last year the hot properties were the freshly baked A7 and A7r, the world’s first mirrorless full-frame cameras (excepting the Leica M which, of course, is not strictly what we think of as mirrorless). Then, before the ink had dried on your purchase invoice, along came the A7s to tempt you into divorce. Perhaps, though, you were wise to resist because the A7II with five-axis stabilisation slunk into view, licking its chops in anticipation of imminent surrender. Get thee behind me, Sony.
Again, though, it could be rash to jump in before weighing up all the facts. We have seen no fewer than four different versions of the A7 in the past 15 months. And rumours of the next paragon, the Sony A9, are now rife. I can’t help wondering about the A8 which, perhaps, was introduced and withdrawn so quickly that it escaped notice.
50 MP, 5-axis stabilisation
The A9, we are confidently advised by Mirrorless Rumors, will be placed above the current A7 series in terms of photographic power. Its full-frame sensor will sport almost 50 megapixels (remind me to order one of those new 8TB Seagate disks…) and the camera will sport 4D tracking autofocus and five-axis stabilisation. I’m not sure what 4D tracking is, but it sounds like something I ought to have.
If you are looking for a new full-frame body on which to display your Leica lenses, perhaps you should keep your wallet firmly closed until the first half of next year when this new beast is said to be due. The camera pictured above, which looks like a mockup to me, is curious in that it appears to lack a viewfinder (at least, a viewfinder hump as on the A7). It also sports a strange Sony logo which is very out of character. More Leica, if you ask me. We shall see.
While it is churlish to criticise Sony for advancing the camera cause so rapidly, the frequent model changes do introduce a level of uncertainty into the market. When is the best time to jump on this rapidly careering bandwagon? And will my investment be halved in a year’s time?
Sony, however, has certainly devoted more time to cameras than lenses. Unlike Fuji with the X-Series. The Sony line-up for the A7 range undersells the brand whereas Fuji’s extraordinarily good range of optics is a positive selling point for the X-Series, despite the smaller APS-C sensor.
Make no mistake, however, The A7 range is superb and I would be proud to own any of these tempting cameras. They offer a tremendous home for full-frame legacy glass, the owners of which might prefer not to be hampered by a crop, as they are with APS-C or MFT cameras. Yet the main thing holding back the A7 range is this lack of fast primes and world-class zooms.
I refuse to be churlish and I look forward with interest to the A9. I might even buy one, solely as a body for use with my Leica lenses. At least all these rumours have stopped my lusting after an A7 II. Probably, but then possibly.
Yet temptation does beckon: Steve Huff is addicted to the A7s and has just fallen in love again with the new A7 II because of its improved build quality, effective stabilisation and uncanny knack of getting the best out of manual lenses, especially the fickle Leica Noctilux f/0.95.
One thing for sure, 2015 is going to be an interesting year for mirrorless cameras.